“Why would someone write that they’d prefer to stay on the plantation…?!?”

And here’s one last fisking of that poorly reasoned NYT op-ed about player compensation.  It’s a pretty brutal takedown.  An example:

The 30 largest universities in the country each routinely generate annual revenues exceeding $100 million from sports, but according to the National Collegiate Athletic Association, most of those revenues are spent covering operating expenses for the school’s athletic programs and paying tuition for their student-athletes.  The majority of Division I colleges in the N.C.A.A. operate at a loss.  In fact, among the roughly 350 athletic departments in the N.C.A.A.’s Division I, only about 24 schools have generated more revenue than expenses in recent years.  The nation’s top five conferences made over $6 billion in 2015, billions more than all other schools combined, according to an ESPN analysis of N.C.A.A. data.

The NCAA always wants to look at athletic department budgets, instead of looking at the two revenue sports, football and men’s basketball, and it always wants to talk about Division I rather than the still largely segregated P5, which is where the real money is, and even then, only in these two sports, which are dominated by black players, who largely do not graduate according to publicly available information.

For instance, looking at the so-called national championship last month, here are the numbers for Clemson vs. Alabama:  Black male enrollment, 3.28% vs. 3.54%, black football grant-in-aid, 65.88% vs. 75.29%, adjusted revenue per FB GiA, $781,131.66 vs. $1,567,436.06, black FB federal graduation rate, 57% vs. 36%, white FB FGR, 83% vs. 100%.

Moreover, even if most D-I athletic departments operate in the red, why does that matter, when every undergraduate department other than athletics always runs in the red, since they don’t generate individual revenue?  [Emphasis added.]

The only reason it matters is because it’s a convenient way for schools to frame the debate.  The irony is that the schools present their athletic departments as non-profit in nature.

One other tell about the college market:

“Distort the economics of college sports?”  These economics are already distorted, where the zero labor rate allows the Power Five Conference football and men’s basketball coaches to be paid in excess of their “professional” counter-parts, because professional teams have to pay the labor.  [Emphasis added.]

That’s probably true of ADs versus pro GMs, as well, not to mention the facilities arms race.  Again, that’s not where the NCAA prefers to have the debate, because making it about student-athletes in non-revenue producing sports is a much more wholesome, “do it for the kids” discussion.

I keep saying it, but it comes off better to assert the position that one’s personal preference is not to pay student-athletes and stop talking, because there is no logical underpinning to the economics.


Filed under It's Just Bidness, The NCAA

20 responses to ““Why would someone write that they’d prefer to stay on the plantation…?!?”

  1. In all of the arguments for paying the players, they prove what their argument is really about when someone brings up the “plantation” of college sports. It’s a racially charged word (for good reason) meant to shut down debate and to give its user the moral high ground. The lives of Power 5 college athletes are nothing like those who experienced plantation life pre-1865. If someone wants to argue the merits of the economics (I am on the side of the players), talk about how the NCAA operates a price-fixing cartel with its amateurism rules. Talk about how every other person on the campus owns the rights to be compensated for the use of his/her name and likeness. Make the case that the those who buy the jersey for the name on the front wouldn’t mind one bit if the faces behind the names on the back of the jersey received a cut. In many cases, the student-athlete is properly compensated by the university with the full cost of attendance scholarship. In some cases, the scholarship, the facilities, the medical care and the development aren’t nearly enough to compensate the student-athlete.

    I’m a romantic about college sports between the lines, on the hardwood, or on the court. I’m a realist about the economics of college sports. It’s past time to do what’s right for the student-athlete.


  2. NoOneElseWouldPayOurAD600k

    Just look at McGarity. He makes $600k yer there is no other entity on the planet that would pay him $300k right now. None.

    It’s just a situation where they have to do something with the money. For the $63m that UGA spent on what amounts to “we want a nice banquet hall but to have it we have to fuck up a ton of other things that aren’t broken”. You could pay 200 athletes 10k a year for 30 years.

    If the labor was paid there is no way that fiasco decision would have been made. Same with Clemson’s SLIDE in the football facility. Get the F out of here with that.

    I don’t have a problem with those in power keeping it. Just saw “we don’t want to pay”. But the lies and hoops that are created to suppprt the lie and facade are just too much for me.


  3. ASEF

    It’s odd to me that we keep seeing these wide-ranging discussions of Generic Student Athlete in defense of a proposal where a tiny fraction of them will get paid. Whatever that article is addressing, it’s got zero to do with a Zion Williamson.

    Local athlete, 6’4”, fastest 200 in county history, great hands, relatively new to WR (played QB until 2 years ago), makes good grades in college prep courses – can’t sniff a FBS scholarship.

    Demand for these scholarships vastly exceeds the supply. And outside the truly elite prospects, the leverage in the market would remain entirely on the side of the schools.

    Sometimes it feels like the immediacy of the outrage overly narrows the focus of the discussion. If we’re talking about reforming college sports for all student athletes, which is kind of inherent in the premise of the stats used, then paying players is not at the top of that list for me.


    • If it’s not that big a deal, then why is the NCAA acting as if it is?


      • Because people who actually see and know most of the ramifications of what some are proposing, love the game and schools to much for it not to be.


        • But the NCAA says going free market with player compensation would depress fan interest, which would hurt their business. So there’s no way schools would do that anyway, right? I mean, what successful business pursues a strategy that would run off a bunch of customers?

          By the way, the players are already being paid. You still seem to love the game.


      • ASEF

        I didn’t say it wasn’t a big deal to the NCAA. Money is always a big deal to people. Separate issue.

        I pointed out a sizable incongruety between the data presented and the argument the data was presented to support.

        Go spend a weekend at a USA football camp or go watch a travel basketball tournament. Not a Nike sponsored event. Just moms and pops pouring time and money in Jimmy’s and Jane’s athletic scholarship dream. They are putting a decade of their lives and resources into a sizable audition for a spot on the plantation. It’s a part of the picture that a focus on the Zions and AJs, who are getting shafted, completely misses.


        • So we shouldn’t bother worrying about this because there are bigger fish to fry? What, the NCAA can’t walk and chew gum at the same time?

          Think about the resources that would be freed up if compliance issues weren’t taking up so much of the NCAA’s attention. Maybe some of that could be turned in a direction that you would find fruitful.


          • ASEF

            Dang you are into all or nothing binaries this morning. 🙂

            I am not arguing in defense of NCAA or status quo or not paying players. Just pointing out there is a much larger supply of players than scholarships outside that elite set of rainmakers like Zion and A.J., all of whom see the current set up as a good deal.

            Which doesn’t excuse any of the NCAA’s faults. But ignoring it means you’re a step behind the NCAA on this issue, not ahead of them.


            • South FL Dawg

              What football or men’s basketball players see the current setup as a good deal compared to whatever a school is willing to pay or even just the chance to make money from signing their name? Zero.


              • ASEF

                I am watching gifted athletes and players up here in the western NC mountains going begging for scholarship spots. The kid last year who dominated 3 years of varsity football on offense, defense and special teams, logging 9 tackles and a pick in the NC-SC Shrine Bowl? Ok, he was 5’8″, no P5 was going to offer a safety at that height. So, a top FCS like Wofford, right? Well, no. Solid FCS? Western Carolina declined. He ended up at Wingate. Not a problem kid, good grades. Phenomenal football player. But his market was saturated.

                I could go on and on. The market is only going to pay a fraction of the athletes, the ones with pro potential. The rest are entirely interchangeable disposable.


                • Gaskilldawg

                  The “good deal” versus not “good deal” debate is not about whether a scholarship is a better deal than no scholarship, it is about whether a scholarship is not as good a deal as the kid getting a scholarship could have gotten.


    • CB

      Scholarships aren’t purchased (because that would defeat the purpose) so your supply and demand example is a little confusing to me. Yes scholarships to major universities are in high demand in the sense that millions of athletes want one, but by that logic CEO positions for Fortune 500 companies are also in high demand because everyone wants to be a CEO. Stop paying 500 CEO’s and see if everyone is cool with it.


  4. Produce a W-2 from a current P-5 football or basketball player and I’ll buy your argument they are paid.
    Just like your post on one and done if they change it a few will benefit but others will lose. In the case of player compensation way more will lose than win. Citing an article from an attorney that would benefit form the changes is not exactly a non biased source either. These decisions don’t happen in a vacuum the way some seem to reason.


    • What would you call the COA stipend? If it looks like a duck, walks like a duck, quacks like a duck, etc.

      A lot of those kids send it home for their families to spend. Sounds like payment to me.


  5. I call it a response/concession to not allowing the student athletes in those two sports to have gainful employment, which was a response to numerous unlawful and or unethical recruiting violations.


  6. W Cobb Dawg

    Ohhh the pain! The pain! Just pay the players (more) and end their long suffering. Let them do one-and-dones. Exempt them from classes. Free them from individual tutors, banquet tables, luxurious locker rooms and training facilities.

    I ask ya, when will these (mostly public) universities learn to properly run professional sports leagues? They need to get out of the education business and concentrate on more important things.


  7. ApalachDawg

    i still laugh everytime that i see one of these articles – as if top players aren’t already getting paid…
    i’m not talking about stipend, scholarship, etc
    i’m talking about the brown bags of unmarked bills or casino chips on the back porch